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Beyond Open: Culture and Scaling in the Making of Knowledge

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Open Access, Open Science, Open Government, Open Education. We often see these as new movements, set against an old world of broken – and closed – systems of scholarship and education. New technologies, primarily the web, have lifted the veil from our eyes to let us see this new world. If only we could build the right technology...mandate the right behavior then a new utopia of open scholarship will be upon us! The problem with this view is that it sees the disruption of the web as a one-off event that once worked through will provide a solution for all time. Framed that way this is obviously not true, but the challenge goes deeper than that. Scholarship, in its western institutionalized forms, has increased in scale continuously for at least 400 and possibly 2000 years. No social or institutional system can scale continuously over several order of magnitude. Therefore we must expect structural historical breaks.

The question is not how to fix scholarship, but how on earth it has managed to last this long? I will argue that what sits at the core of this survival is a set of normative cultural values that privilege openness. Their application has been far from perfect but the concepts of communication, criticism, civility and inclusion have deep roots in our institutions and communities. At the same time community and identity are critical to scholarship, and both of these imply exclusion and boundary work to define community. My argument is that the culture, forms and values of western scholarship have held these two tendencies in productive tension, allowing the academy to address the ongoing scaling (and consequent inclusion) problem through social, technical and economic innovation. Our challenge is not simply to solve today's problems, but to re-imagine our institutions so that they continuously generate and are able to adopt the innovations necessary to continue to solve the scaling problem into the indefinite future.

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Beyond Open: Culture and Scaling in the Making of Knowledge

  1. 1. Beyond “Open” Culture and Scaling in the Making of Knowledge @cameronneylon cn@cameronneylon.net http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0068-716X
  2. 2. Why ‘beyond’?
  3. 3. As a concept…open is reactionary; it gains meaning largely through a consideration of what it is not. Tkacz (2012)
  4. 4. Two assertions…
  5. 5. 1. Knowledge Grows
  6. 6. de Solla Price, Big Science, Little Science (1963) Nlm.nih.gov Schofer and Meyer (2005), American Sociological Review 70:898
  7. 7. de Solla Price, Big Science, Little Science (1963) Nlm.nih.gov Schofer and Meyer (2005), American Sociological Review 70:898
  8. 8. de Solla Price, Big Science, Little Science (1963) Nlm.nih.gov Schofer and Meyer (2005), American Sociological Review 70:898
  9. 9. 2. Knowledge is made by groups
  10. 10. ESOTERIC EXOTERIC Ludwig Fleck (1981 [1935]) Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact
  11. 11. *
  12. 12. *
  13. 13. Knowledge is a product of translation
  14. 14. General knowledge is produced at the boundaries of group in contact/conflict
  15. 15. 1. Knowledge Grows
  16. 16. 2. Knowledge is made by groups
  17. 17. Groups do not scale…
  18. 18. Adapted from an original Created by Richard Slade from the Noun Project
  19. 19. Adapted from an original Created by Richard Slade from the Noun Project
  20. 20. …and yet it grows…
  21. 21. 1 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000 10000000 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
  22. 22. Culture & institutions support scaling…
  23. 23. …but also have limits to scale
  24. 24. Growth Intrinsic Limit Endogenous Innovation Growth Intrinsic Limit Adoption
  25. 25. Innovations/Institutions are endogenous
  26. 26. There will always be a next crisis…
  27. 27. Distribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000
  28. 28. IndustrialisationDistribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000
  29. 29. IndustrialisationDistribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000 What counts as scholarly? Peer Review
  30. 30. Many of the discussions of the future at CERN and the LHC era end with the question – “Yes, but how will we ever keep track of such a large project?”
  31. 31. Many of the discussions of the future at CERN and the LHC era end with the question – “Yes, but how will we ever keep track of such a large project?” https://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html
  32. 32. IndustrialisationDistribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000 What counts as scholarly? Peer Review The Web ? Discoverability/Siloing Trust
  33. 33. 1955 1965 1975 1985 1995 2005 2015 IndustrialisationDistribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000 What counts as scholarly? Peer Review The Web ? Discoverability/Siloing Trust
  34. 34. …and yet it grows…
  35. 35. 1 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000 10000000 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000 …and yet it grows…
  36. 36. “Open” is the engine of scaling
  37. 37. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. Thomas Jefferson
  38. 38. [ideas are as if] benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point; Thomas Jefferson
  39. 39. . . . I dare speak confidently and positively of very few things, except of matters of fact. Robert Boyle
  40. 40. “Of my being somewhat prolix […] I thought it necessary to deliver things circumstantially, that the Person I addressed them to might, without mistake, and with as little trouble as is possible, be able to repeat such unusual Experiments” Robert Boyle
  41. 41. [I will answer Linus’ objections] partly, because the Learned Author, whoever he be having forborne provoking Language in his Objections, allowes me in answering them to comply with my Inclinations & Custom of exercising Civility, even where I most dissent in point of Judgement.” Robert Boyle
  42. 42. [I] speak so doubtingly, and use so often, perhaps, it seems, it is not improbable, and such other expressions, as argue a diffidence of the truth of the opinions I incline to, and that I should be so shy of laying down principles Robert Boyle
  43. 43. Universalism, Communalism, Organised Skepticism, Disinterestedness Merton
  44. 44. “that not alone scientific readers, but those of every class, [...] to approach the source from whence this species of knowledge is derived” James Samuelson and William Crookes
  45. 45. “…merely an amateur, a lover of truth, who was impelled by curiosity ” Grant Allen
  46. 46. “Science” is an old culture that has survived over a long period
  47. 47. (Gradual, limited, imperfect) openness is an old aspiration
  48. 48. *
  49. 49. Diversity is a first order principle for knowledge creation
  50. 50. Elinor Ostrom (1990) Governing the Commons
  51. 51. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. Thomas Jefferson
  52. 52. Elinor Ostrom (1990) Governing the Commons
  53. 53. IndustrialisationDistribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000 What counts as scholarly? Peer Review The Web ? Discoverability/Siloing Trust Opening Up
  54. 54. IndustrialisationDistribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000 What counts as scholarly? Peer Review The Web ? Discoverability/Siloing Trust Opening Up Closing Down
  55. 55. IndustrialisationDistribution/Logistics Limitations 1950 1975 2000 What counts as scholarly? Peer Review The Web ? Discoverability/Siloing Trust Opening Up Closing Down Opening Up Closing Down
  56. 56. Institutions for Productive Conflict
  57. 57. Institutions for Productive Boundaries
  58. 58. Institutions for Productive Conflict
  59. 59. A culture of openness Latour, Politics of Nature
  60. 60. How can one take new beings into account if one cannot radically change the position of one’s gaze? Latour, Politics of Nature
  61. 61. [They are]…precisely inventing through the intermediary of instruments and the artifice of the laboratory, the displacement of points of view that is so indispensable to public life. Latour, Politics of Nature
  62. 62. How can one take new beings into account if one cannot radically change the position of one’s gaze? Latour, Politics of Nature
  63. 63. @cameronneylon http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0068-716X These Slides - https://www.slideshare.net/CameronNeylon/where-next-for- open-scholarship

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